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Wakefield man killed wife, say authorities

Retired accountant is held without bail

David H. McCall called 911 from his house yesterday morning. David H. McCall called 911 from his house yesterday morning.
By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / March 29, 2011

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WAKEFIELD — An elderly couple’s frequent verbal feuding ended early yesterday when the husband fatally shot his wife, moments after she vowed to quit cooking and caring for him and ridiculed him for missing her with his first shot, authorities said.

“We’re developing the nature and scope of the marital discord, but at this point, suffice it to say, there was disagreement of very difficult proportions that occurred between the two of them . . .,’’ Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone said in a press conference yesterday at the Wakefield Police Department, where the suspect, David H. McCall, was being held.

The homicide is Wakefield’s first in more than a year, according to Police Chief Rick Smith, who said that police had never before been called to the couple’s home on Lowell Street.

About two hours after the press conference, McCall was charged in Malden District Court with murder in the death of his wife, Elaine, 69, and with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building. The defendant, a 72-year-old retired accountant who had a license to carry a firearm, appeared weary and bewildered as he was lifted from a wheelchair to his feet by two court officers, who held him up throughout the 15-minute proceeding.

McCall’s attorney, William Kelly, entered a plea of not guilty on his client’s behalf. McCall was ordered held without bail pending a competency hearing. The couple’s three adult children could not be reached for comment.

Elaine McCall never took out a restraining order in that court against her husband.

At 8:15 a.m. yesterday, David McCall called 911 from his house and reported a suicide and murder, apparently indicating he intended to take his life after killing his wife, Leone said.

“Obviously when the caller, Mr. McCall, used the words murder and suicide, he was referring to having shot his wife; but apparently he didn’t make good on the suicide, which was what he called in,’’ Leone said.

According to the police report, McCall was sitting in a chair in his kitchen when police arrived, with a medical walker in front of him. He had a small superficial wound on the inside of his left arm, where his sweatshirt was ripped. McCall told officers that his handgun was on the floor and that he had shot his wife. Police found an apparently loaded handgun and a spent shell casing near where McCall was sitting.

Police found Elaine McCall lying face up next to the front door. She had a faint pulse but was later pronounced dead at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital.

Police questioned David McCall for about 30 minutes after arriving, and he told them that he had been standing on the stairs near the front entrance and that his wife was standing near the door when they started arguing. McCall said his first shot missed his wife. A second shot struck her in the chest. McCall said that after he shot his wife, he walked to the kitchen, where he attempted to shoot himself while standing near the stove.

There have now been eight domestic homicide incidents in the state this year, and nine people have been killed, according to Toni Troop, a spokeswoman for Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts coalition against sexual assault and domestic violence.

“Research and experience shows that there are identifiable red flags for domestic violence homicide, so we urge anyone who is concerned about their own safety or someone they care about to reach out and talk to a domestic violence advocate,’’ she said.

Leone said the Massachusetts Legislature is scheduled today to consider a package that he and three state lawmakers filed in January that would change the law pertaining to who has decision-making authority over a domestic violence homicide victim’s body and estate.

When a family member kills a spouse or another family member, the alleged killer can have control over the body, dictate timing for a burial, and tap into the estate to pay legal fees and bail, Leone said. “That just doesn’t make any sense,’’ he said.

John M. Guilfoil of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.